tv Authors Discuss the Conflict in Syria CSPAN April 30, 2017 1:15pm-2:17pm EDT
>> professor, the author is professor william, the book is called popular support for nondemocratic regimes, the changing views of russians. this is book tv on c-span2, on location at the university of arizona. >> book tv is on twitter and facebook and we want to hear from you. tweet us, twitter.com/book tv or post a comment on our facebook page. facebook.com/book tv. >> welcome to telling serious stories. my name is jeffrey fleishman a cultural writer for the los angeles times in a long time foreign correspondent, ben based in roman berlin. i've written two novels.
thank you for being here, andin the strange times a strong journalism and good books and challenging ideas are critical. that is what the los angeles times in this book festival aspire to and try to provide. after this will gladly take your questions and look for your insight to will have a panel discussion in about ten or 15 minutes after. just as a housekeeping note, please also phones off. there'll be a book signing withs our authors after a area one. no personal recordings of the session please. now, i would like to introduce the panel, christopher phillipsh is senior lecturer in the international relations at queen mary university of london. for several years in syria and often returns to the middle east for research.ndhe he is an associate fellow at
middle east and north africa program. he has written many publications and has appeared on the bbc, al jazeera, and cnn. his just published his second book, the battle for syria, international rivalry in the middle new middle east which wee are discussing today. we have an author and civil-rights floor born in baltimore to syrian immigrants parents issues a trial attorney in the u.s. department of justice. she has worked in the legal field in the west bank of lebanon, she holds a masters degree in journalism from columbia university and her reports have appeared in the nation and the new york times. her books include a country called -- in u.s. history retold through arab-american lives in her new memoir about syria, thea home that was our country which will also be discussing today. elliott ackerman is the author of the novels, green on blue in his new book, dark at the crossing. he lives in is stable and hass covered the syrian war since 2015.
his writings have appeared in the northern, atlantic and has been included in the best american short stories. a former marine and survive tours of duty in iraq and afghanistan where he received the silver star, the bronze star valor in the purple heart. so welcome. [applause] when we think about the arab spring it is this thing in 2011 that started like this and it seemed to stir in tunisia 18 days of energy in egypt that omar qaddafi pulled from a goalie shot and laid in the suit. yemen amber rain, restless, little bit of saudi arabia and on and on. but syria stands alone. 400,000 dead, millions of refugees the tide of anguish
into your across the world. and still, bashar assad rules, marking a broken revolution and defy the world that has left him standing. so, we begin with elliott in your novel is very powerful there is a moment when one of your characters is deciding he's in turkey in deciding do i go back to syria and he doesn't want to. he feels like there's no life for them anymore. and he gives this wonderful powerful thoughts on the ideas of the revolution being shattered and the land be turned into a graveyard.ller o he is saying this to a nicest type fighter. can you give us context on wherc a mere came from? he seems to me to represent so much of what happened in 2011, the stream that is been
shattered. >> sure, i think it's interesting particularly with us to syrian civil war is the arab spring and everyone is trying to grasp the narrative to put this into context. you can look at the arab spring since the events began which iss since we saw the first widespread protest. i started spending time in southern turkey with a number of activist who have been extremely involved in serious nonviolent protest. something that became very evident to me early on was the conflict they talk about. any given night we could go out to dinner and start talkinggdinn politics.. i could be with one friend and they would say you don't understand, the free syrian army is viable, if only the west will support them. the islamic state hasn't taken that much ground.
we'll talk about that and to discuss the west should be further involved and we continue to talk. by the end of dinner, there might be stirring sugar into their t's and i regret the whole thing. i wish we had never gone out to the streets. so, that idea of a very personal and emotional level, how to someone rectify the most proud of is the one that is giving them the most sorrow. as a novelist what i can immediately tap into was my experience in the middle east. e i mix dreamily proud of having fought in iraq and afghanistan but there has been a huge amount of wreckage left by those experiences so if you were to say to me think of the best days of your life, i would say there were days that i was in combat,
to be fair tell me the worst days of your life's. it's the exact same days. what is it say about those experiences?s? that's something i found present with myself as iraq and afghan veteran. it's also something more more activist that was present ingh their experience. >> almost a shell shock syndrome that your ideals and everything you're enforcing some possible that your dissolution. is it deeper than that? >> i think it's part of it. the idea that if you go out and support, it's an irrefutable cause. to go into the streets in 2011 were 2012 engaging in peaceful protest to demand more rights,rm democratic rights and reforms to the regime and see that it leads to the destruction of your country and the deaths of many of her family members and the fact that you can never return home there is a lot of shellshocked in that respect.
one thing that is interesting to me among the people i came to know is there's also anustrated illustrative generation were many older syrians who had experienced the massacres, they were not as quick to embrace the revolution of the younger syrians people tell me theirvo parents said to them, don't go in the streets and say what's the matter, don't you believe in what were doing? we believe but you don't understand what the family's capable of, we do, we remember. for some it's almost as simple as seeing that their parents are proved right in that respect. >> your eloquent memoir, we decided it's not exactly memoir, anyway it eloquently deals with
the history of a family but also the pain of a country. could you tell us what was likely going back and forth unraveling the country's history in the family's history against the context of what is happening today? >> sure. hello los angeles, it's nice toh be here with my gentleman collects. well, yes. what was it like? i think part of the difference in my work is that i did notot come to the serious story and just in the last six years. i always wanted to tell a story about syria just for the sake of syria telling people about a place with interesting characters and people living their lives that has been a tumultuous experience in the 1940s until today. so i did. in april 2011 when everything began to give in the middle
east, when it look like there is stagnation that we had associated with the region felt like it might finally be given away to something else, i decided to move everything in storage in new york .. to damascus.r had i had the opportunity having been a human rights journalist these are hazardous to your health and syria. i never got the opportunity to just be me and syria. once i became an adult with her friends since i had always been a frequent visitor. for the first several years of our life in the united states we planned on going back. there is a lot of back and forth.h. there is an opportunity to go. i had a cover story.40 yea in syria it is 40 years of a strong police state that as i was watching you. so for me who is an american and syrian someone his been the human rights law there's a lot of suspicion around me. to have i needed to have a credible and observable reason to people who
are always watching why i wase , there. i was renovating my grandmother's house and that the central metaphor of the book. it had been the house the my grandmother had moved to is a new bride when the country was new in the late 40s. was a and she stayed there until 1970 when she rented it out to a man from the army with the house was taken force for 40 years until 2010 were able to get it back. seems like there be a metaphor that i be restrain house the same time the country was being restored. and instead the metaphor crumbled and it was a differents kind of story.. what it was like to be there at a time, frightening because i was working inside syria. it was devastating because he saw all of the things being set
in motion to get to today. it is frustrating because we talk about big news in the united states but it started in syria. there is always a counter narrative being put forth by the regime that was what was happening was not this indigenous uprising. it wasn't peaceful and civilil society based. the regime was putting out the narrative that is about foreignr intervention in people being paid. these are things i talk about in the book it's not fake news forr the sake of fake news. it's like what will be accepted if you are to contradict that narrative either verbally or in your actions. was my first chance to be in syria as an adult not being a visitor by virtue of my
profession there's always a? about me. it was devastating. >> while the metaphor is crumbling the u.s. and other countries were in search of what we do with this. syria comes at an interesting time in a form policy under the obama administration there is more retraction of the involvement of the world or how we involve ourselves in the world. the former president drew a line and aside crossed it. and not that long ago president trump fired 87 missiles into syria and the plane still fly in civilian still die. i want to get later in the talks to the larger international question, but what is americaee facing and what can i do? or is it out of the game at this point? that's an important question and the question really that many
people on the ground in syria and the region happen asking since people started taking up arms in syria and the peaceful uprising they are talking about turned into the civil war. the problem from the united states perspective was twofold. first and foremost, siri has never been an important country to the united states, it hasn't been.it it doesn't have a history of being a united states ally. that has been the starting point. so, when you look at how the united states reacted twok different instances, a lot of those reactions were couched in the language of some kind of universal values, like we
believe in democracy or we believe in freedom of speech and so on. actually, the reaction was often related to the strategic importance of that country to the united states. t for example, when the uprising began in egypt, that's a problem for the united states. egypt is an important ally. and they're worried of instability there. so when people took to the streets after a long time the t obama administration said we need to do something about this. they got on the phone to the military in egypt and said done something about this. th you have to create stability. the flipside of that, there is an uprising in bahrain the united states did not say thing.
because actually wanted the ruling regime to stay in power there.o syria, didn't really hit the same buttons. it was not that important. it was an enemy state that had been an enemy of israel and an ally to iran. the united states is not looking at syria saying we need stability here. actually for many people the regime change was not that much of a problem. second point about the united states views it's not a agree much. >> so have people to phone and say i talked to the guys in the military because we have a
relationship with them. there is not that with thehi united states. had an ambassador in syria from 2005 until 2011. it was very interesting about the united states position as they made a lot of generalizations that were happening when they did not know the country at all. they went from one position in early 2011 when assad started crashing this rebellion, when hillary clinton went on television and said, assad is a reformer. he will be fine, we trust that he will reform and stop being oppressive. a few months later brock obama in august of 2011 stands up and said he must stand aside. and he said that because the white house at the time was just like the other states and the arab spring, syria was going to fall. have no further intelligence based on that at all. when i did my research about
others one desk officer in syria in 2011. they did not focus on thisocus o country. that's a starting point. they don't understand syria. the second part of the country not interested in, in terms of geopolitics on the eve of the arab spring the united states wanted out of the middle east. after the 2003 oh iraq warar debacle they wanted to step back consciously say that under obama we don't want to get stuck in the middle east. temporarily, they abandon that logic when they got involved in libya. that turned sour and reinforce the idea that getting involved in middle eastern countries is a bad idea for so to problems in syria which is number one a country they don't care about. and secondly, at a time when they want to step back from the region. >> enter donald trump so we talk
about this earlier, we still do not know what donald trump's approach to the middle east was areas. despite this strike that he is done, he is restrained by the same restraint that brock obama was is that syria is not important to the united states strategically. it seems to be even more remiss than it was in 2011 because the civil war has been going on lonw time. donald trump, even more than brock obama wants to step back from the middle east. on the campaign trai trail he se didn't want to get involved. while he might firebomb here there, there less precision than the obama administration did. i don't see him making a major shift despite the rhetoric. >> what is striking to me is not
just america, but let's say the west wants regime change in are place that is bad, it often seems flat-footed by what rises to the top afterwards. it seems like the intel on the ground there is a lack of connection between what is happening in real-time and what your papers in washington tellu. you. it's unnerving and it happens quite a lot.at what i would like each of you to do along that line is that so many hands have been reaching into syria. so many different moving parts it's mesmerizing. what would you each say, we don't want to go down the entire list we would be here all day. what are the one or two that you feel are most damaged have been most damaging for the country?
>> i think chris analysis is right on, i think the one thing i would add to put into context is that at this moment of u.s. disengagement in the middle east, you had ostensibly the end of the iraq war. we cannot understand the u.s. is international political positions without understanding our domestic political positions and the iraq war was going to end was very important for the november 2012 election. only the back a sensibly all u.s. troops had to be pulled out ofof iraq because we could not t an agreement with the iraqi government or ensure that our troops have the protections they need to stay in iraq. we still have no -- with the iraqis. we need to understand the political pressures that existed to declare victory in iraq, what we have seen is the vacuum you had in iraq during the iraq war
and during the u.s. pullout where you wind up with massive sunni population disenfranchised led to the rise of the islamic d state. i remember being on the syria border with turkey in the fall of 2013 and right across the board i remember watching fighting going on in there is a question of who's fighting up there. it was one of the very firststth liberated towns in the brigade of the -- that held it for months and months. it was the islamic state fighting the free syrian army. this was a time when islamic state was [inaudible] the radara so why are the rebels fighting each other? again it seems -- to say now but the first realization where the goals of the islamic state were not to topple assad but create
their caliphate. while we have in syria now, even this is an oversimplification but you have a three sided war with the free syrian army, the regime and islamic state. the islamic state is a partner linked to the history of the iraq war. one last point to make, i think we as americans have the senseee that we are very important, and we are but whenever i am there there's always a humblingch tha insomuch as we are not, at least my belief is we are not the central actors in this. these are questions that sunni iraq's, these are conflicts between the kurds.e if the u.s. can just figure out the correct policy solution these problems will go away, iu
think that's dramatic. >> it's also understanding the nuance of culture. in northern iraq i spent a lot of time to the build up to the iraq war. i wanted to go hang out with these kurdish fighters and i'm getting ready and packing up too go in they come out and say bring ago. and i said what? and they said it's a sign of respect in the slaughter the goat and they will take you a better. it's little things like that that go along way. syrians. >> i would like to bring the conversation back to syrians. this is true, there's a lot of debate as the u.s. completely incompetent and does not know enough about. that is one conversation we can have but the reality is people in the middle east find itf, really hard to believe the world super power is that incompetent. whether that is true or not that's another debate.design.
but a lot of people over there think it is by design. and it has to be relevant to the conversation were having here. regardless of whether it'se incompetence or by design it's's little comfort to the people on the ground and the people living their lives against these analyses were throwing up. serious not just the latest players in our analysis of what's going on in the region and what kind of orders. i do want to remind us that the syrians are living this and how they see it. >> what do they say to? >> sometimes trust me these
people are kind of incompetent. they don't necessarily know it. but what is that mean to them and people find it hard to understand. they say are you saying the united states did not want bashar also had to be gone?at these are conversations you havr with syrians., >> to give america more power? >> it does have a lot of power. we should also say just because the united states didn't have an appetite for any further middle east involvement doesn't mean it has not been involved in syria since the beginning. the two principal players back in the regime the weather not were not conflict today the chaos that the doorstep of the regime. everything that came after is because of the reaction of the regime and its principal backers were russia and iran. i was at the white house, i had a mas conversation people was syria questioning something you're trying to leverage in those negotiations. it was clear that getting the
deal was a priority. using that leverage on syrians wasn't. russia also abated the cremeans, there were ways to play these cards. turkey is major ally, so thisis idea that we are not involved is not true. this is also what syrians will tell you. whether or not they want to be involved, doesn't change the effect of whatever the united states is doing. >> is certainly a stain on global politics or global morality to think that, let's take syria expanded like a ripple in a pond and we have millions of refugees in europe, the rise of right-wing populist in your. a great disruption of the world's order based on one country, yet no one has the willingness to stop it because of entrenched political reasons are sometimes changing political reasons. what about that?
>> that's correct, it is a stain on everybody's when all of us. that's a decision for maybe another panel. >> having participated in the iraq war, i would sit with many syrians who would voice their complete disgust. how is it that the united states is asleep at the wheel and allowing this to go on? they would also voice their discussed and said you destroyed this region when you invaded iraq in 2003 to get rid of saddam hussein.nd the fact that any western military would invaded iraq country, you can never do that again. so f scott fitzgerald said the sign of superior intellect is to hold two competing thoughts at in your mind at the same time and not go insane. always post invade or not?
if you do want to go, he is not going to leave easily and there isn't a partner force in syria. >> but as a former marine and who is but on the ground five tours, what was the stomach for the american public to go into another misguided venture? >> i'm not going to sit here and pretend to have the answer. in 2012 when that there is a debate i was sitting with a buddy and said if they decide to send in the first marine division, i'm gonna put on my uniform and metals and fourth of july style march on the capital. this is outrageous. one year later being in south turkey in speaking with syrians and seen what the reciprocal is about. the idea that it doesn't take some type of massive intervention to get rid of assad, i think there's pressure you can put. right now you'll have a module
battle on then you'll have the battle for aleppo. who is going to fight that battle? it has been very hard-fought and the searing kurds are not the iraqi army who we have invested in for ten plus years. the searing kurds don't have m1 tanks. the turks are not going to allow the searing kurds to get those tanks. so much of this i think, one has to really look at what these things mean and to go in and if we wanted to really get rid of bashar assad that would mean committing u.s. troops are vastly arming some type of circuit partner force. that leads to a huge u.s. involvement in syria. it is that sustainable? >> two things i would touch on. on the one hand, the united
states is a very good interview me. let's just make the point.stan as much is that have been inat n afghanistan with the soviets did not end well. it intervened in iraq in 2003 and did not go well. in libya in 2000 well, has not ended well. it's not like anyone can point to an example and say okay this is what we need to do in syria that will work.ime cl and brock obama would repeat every time clinton or someone came to him with a plan to arm the rebels he said, give me an example of when this works. now people would argue, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it.st but in terms of evidence in looking at the record, it's not good. the other location when you have recently richard working are very small states like the balkans, large countries like those in the middle east.
>> they were more contained. >> exactly. the other problem is the united states is seemingly unaware of the perception of its own power. united states leaders have big mouths and they talk a big talk and are not aware that when they talk people expect them to act.t that happens in the most notable time it happened for small was in iraq in 1991. when george w. bush said i will come and help you he rose up and said no, you will just get crash. that's what happened. that's how the syrians have been treated. so when brock obama called onan bashar assad to call that he and his advisers thought it was some policy, it's the right thing to do.ne f what was interesting was that after he made the statement he went on vacation to martha's vineyard to two weeks.
he was not going to put syria at the time thought of regime changes the u.s. policy. they calculated their views and he saw massive uptake in people taking up arms in syria.p most o it was already happening but there was a point that the united states is going to come and help us.he united most of the rebels started thinking their strategy was to prompt an intervention from the united states. there is a point about being responsible world leader which is don't have a big mouth. don't say stuff to throw away. fear meant to be leader of the free world, when he : regimes to fall do something about it but don't call him to fall. >> part of your book that i found so eloquent and it picksoi up on what chris was talking
about, while this was going on if you're going to talk tough, syrians are suffering. but one of the parts thatt illuminated for me in your book was in the section dealing withh psychodrama.at you and i talked about this where a priest comes in and tells people to not just think about the fear and pain, dream. and i just thought the way you told that was so skillfully done about how coming train. then the dreams came out and how they matter cannot be met. can you talk about that. >> there are different questions we can ask. if the question is how do we remove bashar assad, maybe it s does have military interaction. but how do we keep syria safe and create a state where they all have legal equality. your answer will lead you to different discussions.
i will leave it at that. i don't want to have a debate about military intervention. >> i don't think that was the only option. you now have so many other.have you have a proxy work and you're going to have to bring the stakeholders to the table and make a deal. if you call yourself "the art of the deal" got let's put your money where your mouth is. deals are not easy. >> we lost our criticalow piewt leverage. >> everybody has a price, i don't think putin is wedded to bashar al-assad, he'll take any stage. how do you start to play them off of each other? if your country we cared about it says human we would come up with another solution. [applause]
zika drama is a story we have to sit on for six years. i can't write about it because i was working secretly on this book. although i did do some anonymous reporting this when i kept. what afternoon my cousin askeded if i wanted to come to a church in damascus. i said i never want to go to church but she said you're going to want to go to church. she said after service there'st this secret draw minutes a group therapy that you do that you ust role-play to work through your issues. this priest in damascus and you'll not hear about this he was also psychotherapist,'s pre-star i guess. with another psychotherapist he started this group therapy
session. after mass those who come to for mass would go downstairs and were joined by other syrians. muslims, and others and they did this group therapy session were six people volunteered, three men and three women and they had to come up with a scenario. one guy said why don't we have a session where we talk about her dreams. minna back and forth about what kind of scenario to we have done this is the first heartbreaking thing the only thing they could come up with his they were at a conference in the conference is already pretty stilted conversation. it's not real and this is in the country when conversations have been chaperonedud and they -- a people start to take on roles. one woman says i'm going to be a civil society activist.
sometimes talking as a parent. they're talking about their dreams are in one says i'm going to play the role of the regime. even though this is fake and pretend there is a fear dissent in the room. at first there's a comical cathartic imitation of the typical regime line. but then it becomes that the regime guy tells everybody, you are not capable of trimming. we have no lead, he will decide your dreams, will choose your dreams for you and you don't have to train. the dynamic of the conversation changes other trying to engage and get some kind of permission and the exact way were seen happening on the streets in syria. those are the kinds of stories that i wanted tondki t tell. asa that is where the future of syria or syria actually lies, and its people not just actors who choose to fight. >> will have a few more questions than open to the audience. your book is a duty on how it --
a conflicted soul and he's in iraq american in the iraq war and now in turkey and syria. how did you mentioned before about your time on the ground, how did that inform you if at all when you're putting this together? there so many parts about conflict and other things that are told with the understated hand. >> i'm often trying to do in a novel and most of my work takes place overseas where deals with what are by and large extremely complex events. i also cover the war as a journalist. particularly when you're covering is a journalist there are many events occurring every
day and a myriad of groups will complexities that sitting out here in the crowd you can feel around this issue. but how do you drill these down to some type of an emotional truth? how do you tell a story that can take a reader who hasn't been in southern turkey and iraq in syria and take them on a journey for the experience a similar emotional -- so it resonated with me that i alluded to that many people i've spoken to, they like in their experience with the revolution wanted, they fell in love with it. they have fallen in love with the idea of going on into the streets after growing up in actively protesting.family s the film of to the point with their family didn't support them they would turn their backs on the family. they believed in what they're doing. in many respects they describe revolution as an adventure t
of the heart. but in the wake of its failure they were left heartbroken. lout in the novel and trying to figure out what i call emotional equivalencies, what is the emotional equivalent of going on a journey in the revolution that is an adventure of the heart?-- i what started revealing itself was that it was a marriage. year two people in their living in their independent worlds and as in any marriage when they ofh meet they come together around this area of a shared world. and falling in love and getting married is this a very small revolution. you change your life and kind of create this new world together. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. when it doesn'tar that failure d people are left to deal with the
wreckage.y of a f so in any respect its most essential the story of a failed revolution. but it's told of a dissolution of the marriage. >> speaking of that let's talk about moscow and to run and how it's equation right now is washington's concern if it's going to deal with syria these are two fermentable characters. your book discusses that, where do you think we're headed with this new president? >> it's interesting. we talk about it earlier as well. iran and russia are the key players in syria right now. it is not to deny any agency, but were talking about i announce the talks the words now
been outsourced and normally in civil war's you get a point ofat stalemate, you get a point where the domestic actors cannot keep fighting a recognize the gemara negotiating. that point should reach a point a long time ago. the reason it hasn't is because both sides, particularly the regime have been constantly supported and reinforced by outside actors. the russians and iranians to in this and the iranian militia from lebanon and iraq and russin afghanistan and so on, and then the russian air force hugepu amounts of money. so pumping it to the regime to keep it afloat. that makes these players key. the problem is, is our first point. the internal dynamics of the regime from what i understand still have agents. this is not a proxy war or
question of iran or russia sane jump and they said how high? in fact being two powers there he's able to bounce them off of one another. ge you saw when fights break down often it's something the russians arrange with the americans, and then the regime doesn't want to cease-fire and doesn't believe in compromise. basically get the iranians on board said that will break the cease-fire, and they do. you get a dynamic effect of what is going on, on the ground. that means the relationship is key in determining really how this war and that.ir the problem is, firstly the radiance and russians are enemiefriendenemies. the iranians, took the lead in the syria state and are trying
to create a hezbollah the russians believe in firmly. they want the searing states to come together. then you look at where they're working, the iranians are interested in damascus and it's all about getting the connection, the russians are based on the coast. they are interested in the bases of the mediterranean and then a base -- they're doing things in a different way. . . naively thinks you can peel russians away from them that is nonsense not because they like each other but because they dislike the americans a lot more collectively and i think that any strategy that is based on trying to get to break apart doesn't really you know you have a very short-term memory. russian and iranians look at the united states as threat.
they're against regime change because they think that if it is successful in damascus or by data it will make moscow they'll share that view and so on. the part is going to be difficult. other difficult thing is that again, this agency point of the regime, i don't actually believe that either iran or russia is capable of getting rid of al-assad he's played, a very, very monstrous syringe. individual but played a clear clever hand to get future. but slightly russians would like to get rid doesn't make it out. i think only way to get rid of assad is in a body bag. >> they don't care. they will take any. >> but iranians don't care as a individual, but he plays a role for them i think. you know, the issue with them --
is it is very interesting i expect a few people by iranian government and russian government on this. they said the same thing at different time which is is they started off in syria, thinking that assad was this nobody, a guy with thought to get rid of him. they borrowed deep into it they realized he played a odd central role and not at all but a chairman of the board. keeping all of the of the different fractions inside syrian regime underneath him like agreeing on that. if he goes, they'll not agree on a single compromise king the and it can track uture what's left of the regiming and both sides i think e inside syria are more and more aware. >> argument from all sides. that's the difficult that around both believe that believe at the moment that means getting rid of iowa cads very, very difficult. >> but there's a stwengt city that supports bashar. it is not just -- multicoheernght that includes
the -- elite and their interest in the stwengt city is not specifically are going to have be part of what deal and that's the problem only talking about how do we, you know, how do we topple regime or not topple regime because that -- that doesn't -- that doesn't necessitate the conversation sort of -- incorporate and try to keep this as that metaphor about this house and history of this house over, you know, includes the 40 years that, you know, so the house is taken from us for 40 years and somebody else had this thousands for 40 year and when i wrote the bock i thought you know that -- that person was a principle villain but i realized if i don't include 40 years of the history of that house and this book then i've done the same thing that's done in syria whatever pour is exchanged that we totally negate and pretends
that nothing else had ever come before and i think moving forward no matter what happens in the the after there we can't keep excluding parts that we don't like. there will have to be a sort of all parts have to be includessed. >> okay. so i -- i would urge you to buy each of these books they're quite aluminating and very good. [applause] and they'll be on sale at signing area one. but now let's open it up to some questions. do we have a mic? we have some hands up. here's a gentleman right here. question for elliot. you mentioned earlier in discussion that -- you're proud of fighting in iraq and afghanistan. i'm curious why. >> i am -- i am proud of, you know, what i did with the marinings who i was there with with.
one of the thing very interesting about war is this brings out o the best and the absolute worst in people. so the worst is, obviously, the killing, you know, but at the same time you see i've seen guys very best friends run out in the street when they're shot laying there bleeding going to drag them out you know drag them and bring them safely back home and you start to ask yourself the question why do people do things like that and one of the things i learned in war is that for instance, you know, i saw a lot of very, a lot of courage. and i was afraid a lot. so i like know what fear feels like i bet you do too. you know, fear is a very, very acute emotion. but you know i really don't know what courage feels like sort of what had --
what is the opposite of fear. that you feel -- so i talk about the scene you know things over, eight years as in iraq, afghanistan saying iraqi soldiers i worked with afghan soldiers i worked with at a personal level is my 20s i was thinking what is opposite of fear and why do these people go out and do these things for one another so you don't feel brave. you feel love. and so i saw a lot of people do some pretty remarkable things to one another and extremely difficult circumstances because they loved one another. when you're asked what i'm proud of i'm the proud of being parts of group of people who loved one another in that way. so you know frankly i was a young man of a certain age and my country was at war and i made the decision that if that was going on when you was 23 years old that you know what i was going to opght in and i wanted to look back and say that i raise my hands and said i was going to go, and you know, i'm
sure that people in this room disagree with that decision. but at the end of the day when i was there, you know, and i look i have kids now i hope they'll never have to have that decision and when they're 23 or o there won't be a war to go off to. but once you're there it becomes much more personal in things that i'm proud of is seeing the relationship that existed amongst us. so that when the time came you know there was sufficient love that people will go in for one another. >> we have a question here in the back. >> thank you for your answer there. i appreciate that i was a combat in vietnam for a year with 173 airborne brigade one of the conclusions they cam to was men in combat the experience these with each other going back to beginning of time and it is irrelevant as to what war you're in you'll have those kiengdz of experiences that if you're in a tight group and under oppression and part of the deal as you've got to kill other people that is not something that is good, bad
or drchght but the fact to stay is in. but my real reason to rise up my real reason to rise up, we screwed up so bad in vietnam, who do we have the hubris to think we can thicks fig in the northeast. why are we committing money and time and blood over there for the sake of what? why don't we fix our ancientry instead of sprawling our pride. we can folks this shit every. cra pennsylvania. that won't work. >> i allow me to jump in on that. it's a very interesting question and the argue. i tend to make about this, is someone who is british and had even longer history than messint up parts of the world. you guys are doing all right so
we're very proud of you. well done. there's a component of responsibility as well, which is that i completely agree with the sentiment -- a big problem i see that the u.s. poll so imakers have been making is that war is a solution. er is there's a problem in world there must be a military solution, and i think that is a real problem in thinking of things a lot more about the power of the industrial complex and so on. but i think that one thing that the united states should perhaps learn better is -- there are other tools in the box. you can use economic weaponry oc sanctions, diplomacy, rare his is diplomacy used the way it used to be. the end of the cold war was a shame because you couldn't just go around bombinge everybody because the soviet
union react.rt you had kissinger and other diplomats that would fly around. it isn't good enough for countries that have had a big role in messing up the part of the world to then just turn tail and say we're not interested anymore. think britain did that and that's a real problem. mosted up most of the colonial world and then said we can't afford it anymore and you're on your own. the united states hasni responsibility having been involved in places like iraq and afghanistan and elsewhere, not necessarily to fix things militarily but not just to say this isn't working anymore. think there needs to bes to b something -- some involvement. i would argue that a lot of -- perhaps the super powers of the world would do better to listen to what the people in the parts of the world actually want rather than to just sort of
assume what needs to be done but that requires make something quite big concessions that most major powers aren't willing to make.re >> i think we're so much more comfortable taking action as opposed to taking responsibility, and having any kind of -- [applause] -- thank you. three votes -- i don't have the power to do that. we don't reconcile with our history. don't -- i've lived in other countries. we were talk -- we both lived in italy. the it tans love to -- italians love to talk about how imperfect they are but americans canize im recognize imperfection and contention discuss slavery, not only what we have done to other countries. so i don't know. i think we have to hold ourselves accountable. we are involved. we have been involved.d. and we were involved in syria, even before now.
we rendered people during our so-called war on terror and george the junior, to syria to tortured when we didn't want to torture here. we okayed his normalized his father when we wanted him to be part of bush father's invasion of iraq. it's a long history and we have to be honest about and it we can't just have memories that started yesterday or six years ago. we have to be okay with being the bad guy oar -- or the incompetent guy opposite in a while. >> i -- once in a while. >> i wondered if was -- long the lines about action and how to act and responsibility for it. everyone used to always point back years ago to graham green's quiet american and it was like this innocence, naivete, but america always trying to do well but then that sort of becameof almost caricature or perversion of that.
as more and more involvements came in and as more and more secrets came to light, it was like, wait a minute. there's a lot of stuff here we just can't keep saying, we anyone right. there's an incredible amount of hubris in it, and not necessarily the extreme negative sense but to say we can do it. we have our brand that works and try it. just like we sell dish washing liquid. it's like, here, take it, it works, and it doesn't work and the world is full many different cultures and things and it's distressing to see it happen over and over. time for one more question. >> i appreciate that assad is running a police state but to what extent do everyday syrianst within the territory assad
controls now have normal lives? >> in damascus, massive inflation, electricity cuts, fuel cuts, cost of food has gont up, the syrian money which was always stable, -- one dollar is 50 is like totally blown up. and that part of the -- the dynamic we talk about in the book because living in a police state or totalitarian state, you're not just a victim, you're a bystander and is bit players in this theater the regime is invested in maintaining that everything is normal and our people are able to good long and have life and what they can't have is because of the rebels. so, that's damascus. other places on the coast, and
the stronghold of a lot of the people that make up the army and the regime, has taken in a lot of internally displaced people. so it's kind of happening. that economy is doing quite well in many ways because it's one of the few places that all these people have come in and they feel it's safe to stay. so these are the principle areas under assad control. then where they have incontrol they have cleansed it of the population want and have already started planning for reconstruction and trying to access reconstruction funds andd dem graphically secure their power by who they tabling, which is something that the father did when he came -- he also comes from the coast and when they took power they moved people from down there who would be loyal to them and built the external parts of dam mass extras are demographically built with regime supporters.
>> well, that brings us too an end. thank you very much for coming. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2. with top, noninformation books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> good afternoon, i'm nate. i'm the deputy director of the fell federal society's initiative. thank you for joining us today. as a former house and senate staffer i specially want to welcome the congressiol